Saturday, September 29, 2007


(September 29, 2007) Knoxville Double, 16th double started (one went down the toilet) w/ Don, 200 miles, 12,600' climbing, 5:30-8:21, 16mph

Can't figure this ride out. 2,000' less climbing than Mt Tam Double, though ride takes me much longer and always finish in the dark while I finish Mt Tam with plenty of daylight to spare. Well, as two months after Mt. Tam sunset is about 1 1/4 hours earlier. We also leave 1/2 hour later. Or, maybe it is because it isn't timed so no urgency, or that I am always injured (2005-dog bit, 2006-hit by car) a week before the ride. In any case what promised to be a big Diablo Cyclist party petered out, and only Don was going to ride it. (but 4-5 club members going to work the event, and Kitty would be on the ride-probably starting earlier and skipping rest stops.) As Don is our fastest long distance rider, and for once I was healthy going into this, I figured we could get in just before nightfall.

Ride is put on by the Quackcyclists, and while they don't do the (great "over the top" exuberance of the Santa Rosa Cycling Club for the Terrible Two, they do a great job in every other area of support catering to what long distance cyclists need.. I always quip that this ride is their apology for torturing us on the Devil Mountain Double with 50% more climbing.

Ride inexplicably was pushed back a week which worked out great. First it allowed me to do the Auburn Double Metric +16 miles two weeks ago. And last week, when this ride was supposed to have happened, we had a beautiful December day--cold and rain, whereas September in the Bay Area is supposed to be the nicest month of all.

Other things don't quite work out as planned. Was jazzed when I saw motel on the outskirts of Vacaville--for once I wasn't staying at a hobo dive. But with trailer trash arguing in the background I sat around for an hour while I had three different rooms in rapid succession--for the first room the lock didn't open, for the second it didn't shut. Then off to the "famous Vacaville Outlets" (home of white shoes on the cheap) where the only store I like, the Pearl Isumi shop, was gone. Then off to the park for checkin where one volunteer complained about my handwriting but otherwise lots of Quackcyclist Swag (reflect ankle band, water bottle. energy bar, gel flask--all things Planet Ultra would charge for, where I picked up some Quack shorts.) I'm always amazed how low key double check in's as opposed to the festive atmosphere at a Chico or Sierra Century (with 10x as many riders and some vendors.) Now running late because of the motel fiasco, I get to downtown Vacaville just when Ray's Bike Shop (saved my ride in 2006) is closing, and he Italian restaurant from 2 years back is gone. Back towards the outlets which is surrounded by strip mall after strip mall, but pleasantly surprised as they took the Nut Tree development (used to be the one oasis to eat on the way between San Francisco and Sacramento) and created a chain store mall, but with loads of sidewalks and laid out in a street grid so conducive to walking around. Same stores where I live (Brentwood-Antioch) where the most obvious feature is the giant parking lot between stores that makes walking between stores nearly impossible.

Weather promised to be in sunny in the mid 70's but we'd be through numerous mico climates. Great that the Quacks run drop bags back from rest stop #1 where we could ditch lights and some clothes and #2, where more clothes could go before the 20 mile gentle climb along Knoxville Road to Lower Lake. I mistakenly have described it a "fun climb."--this year it sucked. More on this later.

Not a mass start, and most riders start out by 5:00. Don/ I started at 5:30. In the past I've not been the greatest fan of mass starts but a nice way to get the excitement/ heart rate up. Now Don/ I starting off in complete darkness around Pena Adobe Park Lake, with no other cyclists in sight. Glad I brought heavy duty lights--though part of the beginning is through suburbia streetlights, most of the pre dawn route is along the highway service road or rural roads leading to Napa Valley with no lights at all. Unlike Davis Double that has workers waving the turns in the darkness--here you better spot the ground route markings. Luckily Don knows where we were going and he was hammering and passed about a half dozen riders --though we were passed by a racing couple. Don was doing all the work and I was holding on in the cold (50's) damp air that kills my breathing. First time knee warmers over knee wrap--tee shirt and vest and windbreaker, since February. Surprise-road that was rough last year has been repaved. We must be going fast--still dark where I double flatted after sunrise last year.

We're headed west--going over Mt George, which in past years I remember for the terrible, curvy descent. But what I've lost in climbing ability (gone from very good to good) Ive gained in downhill (OK, now poor but used to be utterly terrible) ability. I took Mt. George easily as breathing still f'd, but it was actually warm on top of the climb and at the downhill which I had fun on. We still hadn't seen many rides until we went past idiot cyclists #1--riding side by side and bsing on the downhill. I said "on your left" but they didn't move from their side by side position--Don went over the yellow line to pass but I wasn't having none of that--so I had to get a little louder with a stronger sense of urgency in my best "da Bronx."

The Napa Valley floor was foggy and colder--reported to be in the high 40's. Must have gone through the organic section of Napa, area smelled like wet cow shit. Pulled into rest stop #1--mile 36--17.9 mph, workers dressed for Siberia. Any thoughts of sending clothes back when on the top of Mt George would now wait. Don and I have similar rest stop body clocks--especially on an untimed double--we'd both be ready to leave in about 12-15 minutes.

Next segment was lots of fun. We continued North in the Napa Valley we here we saw hot air balloons as sky finally clear and sun was out. . Here I started sharing some work with Don, especially when someone would become a passenger on our two man and I would kick it into gear on a roller. At some point passed by the famous Lee Mitchell sag, and I wasn't going to let him off the hook--I started yelling "play some Doors." (Great guy and real helpful but the music he usually pipes out of his sag van usually could be improved upon.) He gets on the loudspeaker and lets us know that his music equipment is broken. No matter, I've been grabbing some live tunes off of You-Tube and then editing them for my MP3, the fast pace of this portion of the ride was perfect for the constant quick beat of a live version of Berlin's techno -"Sex" that I recently edited--and now kept racing though my head.

One Grizzly Peak Cyclist would be a passenger then attack on rollers, so when the rollers kicked up a notch Don/ I dropped him. (Rumored that Grizzly Peak doubles leader Marc starting at 6:00 so he wasn't around to watch over his disciples.) Then a long but shallow climb from Napa Valley East--now sunny and actually warm, and here is where Don and I passed loads of the early morning starters while just riding at an even pace and having fun.

We soon hit the top of Howell Mountain and White Cottage Road--part of the impetus to pass as many cyclists as possible was to go downhill on the curvy run in as small a group as possible. Tense and wound up last year (after hitting a car on a downhill the week before,) I enjoyed the downhill, and all to soon we were zig zagging East towards Lake Berryessa along a flat road that would have rollers increasing in duration along the way.
Don & I on start of beautiful Knoxville Road climb that turned from sunny & fun too windy, cold and painful Thanks to Ravi-also a doubles riders-who was taking photos just for a Second Harvest Food Donation.
This where we ran into Idiot Cyclist-Yellow Jersey-#2. On the flats we caught up to him and almost as soon as we were behind there was a left turn Idiot Yellow #2 missed, started cursing that he missed it and/. or we were following behind him so he couldn't make a sudden left, and he hammered off. Don/ I got back to him and then went passed--Idiot Yellow #3 regrouped with 3 or 4 other riders and they came back to us. Cool, a large paceline into Rest Stop #2. Except Idiot Yellow #2 wouldn't call out any crap/ cracks in the road, went from 1st to 2nd wheel, and jumped around. We went up one roller, I gave Don the signal and we both went hard up the next one--dropping the paceline for good for the next few miles until rest stop #2-mile 70-17.4 average. Now really nice and warm--the knee warmers and tee shirt to the drop bag. Now for the FUN Knoxville road climb. Hah.

First half of the climb up Knoxville Road--the first 10 miles--went real well. What's not to like, starts with a real scenic water crossing, a steady 3% grade, hardly any traffic. Only negative is the road surface isn't the greatest, but the rough road is usually just concentrated around the shallow culverts that run across the road each 1/2 mile.

But some things soon became apparent.

1-There was a slight headwind at the start which would disappear if we were momentarily sheltered but got increasingly strong as we climbed,

2-Though sunny out, and we're climbing a a nice clip, the headwind is from the North and it was getting cooler and cooler,

3-Hmmmm, my ankle feels weird---kind of like after I twisted it 2 weeks ago at the start of the time trial at Auburn. But it hadn't bugged me in two weeks, but now it was starting to hurt.

About half way up the Knoxville Climb gets steeper (maybe 5% instead of 3%), it was getting colder, and my left ankle did not want to turn the pedal so I was doing most of the work off my right leg. I was getting cold and usually I could up the pace to warm up but nothing doing today. After having passed scores of riders, now Don easily rode away from me, and others started to pass. I pulled off to put on vest--Don waiting for me at water stop after the tunnel. We caught up to Kitty, a B-P-B (sic) finisher who can put in more miles than almost anyone, while skipping most rest stops but not terribly fast on climbs and she started an hour before us. However, Don started riding away again and I couldn't go much faster than Kitty--who did start to detail all the food she was going to eat at lunch.. Luckily a few downhills started so I could get some relief while coasting ,and while wondering how I was going to do the oppressive (10% and long) Cobb Mountain climb after lunch while I could barely do Knoxville. Figured that they must have athletic tape so I'll get massage therapist to wrap my ankle and take some Advil.

Right before we get to lunch two clubmates come by in a Sag and yell some wise ass stuff but I'm in no mood to joke around. I know the person taking numbers at lunch--glad to see a friendly face--and her significant other also working the lunch stop and will put together some food for me. But all I want to do is have massage therapist look at ankle--which he does--says there is scar tissue building that he has to break up--and it is in one of three places the 3rd place might hurt. "AAAAAAAAH"--it did. Massage therapist said he loosened up the ankle but now it felt worse--I could barely walk as I stumbled over for some food. Oh yeah--ankle taping--he could do that but no one had a roll of athletic tape--but EVERYONE had a roll of duct tape. Spotted another sag driver/Quack organizer I had known for years--tape--oh yeah "duct tape." I didn't want to put duct tape on my skin--but I wanted to finish the ride--so I wrapped my ankle OUTSIDE my sock and took some Advil, and then ate a hearty lunch of a tostada shell before I stumbled back on the bike. As last year Don didn't seem in much of a hurry and was letting me set the rest stop pace.

On the bike I felt better but BIG PROBLEM at stop sign and then traffic light out of Lower Lake. I always clip in/ out with left (now bad) ankle--and at stop sign I couldn't and barely made it out before crashing down. So at stop light I made a conscious effort to clip out right--which involves leaning the bike a different way so you don't go crashing down to the ground (last time I clipped out right was appx 9 years ago when I first got clipless pedals--I clipped out right but leaned left--and quickly fell.) This right clip out was more successful than 9 years ago--but it also meant that I had to start, where you put down some torque, with my left foot once we got going--which didn't work out well. Luckily for the rest of the ride, as very few traffic controls, only had to clip out a half dozen times in 90 miles.

Right away we start on a gentle climb as a lead in to 10% Cobb Mountain. Right away we hear a womans's voice laughing as she passes "it's those Diablooooos"--it is Fresno Lori--great climber and Triple Crown Race winner from last year. I pick up the pace to ride at her pace but Don talks some sense into me and I drop off--which is just as well as I died on Cobb Mountain. It's a long climb and the first part is the steepest so I just put it in an easy gear and tried to spin but no matter how easy I couldn't turn the pedals with any force and Don again disappeared in the stratosphere. I finally got pissed at myself and jumped out of the saddle. A nice person who wasn't the fastest climber pulled alongside me and offered encouragement as I was struggling, she said something like "wow, you are climbing in a double" and then pulled ahead.

At that point I wondered what the hell was I doing--sitting and spinning wasn't protecting my ankle, I wasn't going anywhere, so I might as well try standing. A revelation--standing didn't hurt my ankle nearly as much--and though knee and quads protested that I would stand too much for the rest of the day--my ankle won out--and it turned into a recipe for success. Don took a little speed off on the climbs, and I'd stand right away as soon as a climb started to stay with him--take very short sitting breaks--and then pop up again .

(above) Don & I(below) Hey--the tape matches my shoes. Great to see Craig and John working Detert Reservoir rest stop--though I refused John's home made PBJ sandwich and told Craig that the Quacks made me wear the duct tape as I forgot to bring a reflective band. From here going to roll though uncrowded section of Napa Valley--beautiful part of the ride. Thanks to Craig for photos.

The severity of the Cobb grade lessens as you get near the top--Don waiting for me on a level portion, and we hit the last hard section together and stay together. Man--this was like the year in review--at the top was the turnaround of the 300k brevet we did in March and also the turnaround for the fire rerouted Davis Double--where we came in from this side. However no turn around on the ride today--we'd have to go down the other side of Cobb first.
I'm beat but now the long downhill off of Cobb--or at least the 1st section which isn't as steep as the 2nd (luckily for me.)
I start down, Don rides shotgun so he will go down at my speed, which in the past woefully slow but now at a decent pace as I started getting off the saddle more to weigh my outside foot--much better control on the turns. In fact we go by a few cyclists--I never pass anyone on a downhill. All of a sudden get to a sunny patch, the road forks to the left but there is a side road going off to the right--no change o course markings, and IT LOOKS (to Mt Magoo) like there is a 3rd option with the road continues straight so that is where I go. However it isn't the road, it is a gravel field similar to the color of the road which dumps out onto a grassy field with bushes dead ahead. (Don and two guys we passed said it was hard to track the road at that point and see where it went.) With an audience aghast behind me I manage to stay upright while rolling fast on the field, braking before hitting the bushes, and clipping out fast. Now I had an adreline rush for the second part of teh downhill which is very steep (appx 10%) but I don't think I ever hit the brake. Out of Middletown we hook on to a half dozen group--some folks review my downhill exploits--and we paceline into the Detert Reservior stop (note to self--it is the miliage FOLLOWING the stops that you should take re where the rest stops are--Detert is at mile 134--NOT at 129 where the last turn previous is and you expected rest stop to be.)
Road thru Middletown and into Detert has very light traffic--surrounds are nice--weather is warm. Great to see club members John and Craig working this stop. It is now 3:15--was hoping to hit this stop at 3:00 if wanted to finish while light out. No matter, as was not going to speed thru stops as I had done at Mt Tam in order to rest my foot. As still hot and 70 miles to go not very hungry--so just grabbed two slices of plain bread while John made PBJ sandwiches. Craig wanted to know why I had duct tape around my ankle--told him I had forgotten my reflective band and heh Quackcyclists made me wrap my ankle in duct tape--he looked like I almost sold this. Took more Endurologhts-Tums-Advil--Heed mix, maybe should have made another Perpetuem shake but 3 "Bosco's" (Perpetuem w/ Chocolate Hammergel) early on was enough. A feature of this ride is NO water out of a garden hose--all the water is bottled--and first dumped in a jug filled with ice so it is nice and cold!! (shucks, no lukewarm water coming out of one of those Rube Goldberg tripletaps hooked up to the garden hose that sparys in all directions when coming out." Another big roll of duct tape laying out so I put another layer around my ankle/ bottom of foot.
The good news was that all the big climbs--save Cardiac near mile 180, were all done. Now a beautiful ride thru Pope Valley that was mostly flat puncuated by long rollers, and then a part I remember well--a fast ride through a canyon. Stupid me--I never realized the canyon was the great Lake Hennessey stretch that one climbs on the Napa Wine Country Century.
The rollers were strange--if you caught the wind right you could go uphill at 20mph. First series went well but I was still trying to conserve and sit--which would have me promptly lose Don's wheel on the uphill. Plus I was getting really tired--whereas I just started thinking about how long could stay at next rest stop as i'd want to lay out for awhile. Pass Aetna Springs turnoff--now deserted--usually a clusterfuck of cyclists going into Tour of Napa Valley Lunch. Past Hubcap Ranch with the sun gleeming off all the Ed Wood spaceships on the fence. When I pass Ink Grade I usually joke (and I'm half serious) that we should do it, but today I promptly said "no Ink Grade for me." But then a great thing happened--white jersey idiot cyclist came by and got my dander up. Don may be our fastest long distance cyclist but I am the most competative when I'm pissed., and getting pissed was needed to get me out of the doldrums.
I'm pooping out as we continue down Pope Valley--we get up to two other cyclists which is great as we can form a paceline and take it easy. All of a sudden I hear something coming up the road fast--I turn to my right to look backwards over my shoulder--I always do that (grabbing the bars in the middle with one hand and the back of the seat with the other so the bike doesn't swerve) as my neck is much looser when I turn to the right. At that point tandem with another cyclist speeds to the left--and a white jersey idiot cyclist flys off the tandems wheel as we are hitting a short uphill roller yells out to me "I SAID ON YOUR LEFT."
Fuck taking it easy. White jersey idiot now up the road. I put in an effort to get on tandems wheel and they start pulling me when road levels out but I look backwards and Don missed the move so I pull off and wait for him--heck Don waited for me 10000x today. Together we speed by the tandem and catch up to white jersey idiot. We hit a longer roller and I come around--white jersey idiot gets back to me and tries to come around so I stand, and stand and stand and keep standing until I pull away and hit the top before he does. Don again behind the action so after we crest I slow for Don and white jersey idiot goes off again.
Now on a straightaway which will be puncuated by fast, curvy downhills. Don/I get back to white jersey idiot again who I note keeps glancing back at us every few seconds. I'm not going to contest a downhill so I''m in no hurry to pass--and it looks like our sitting behind him is bugging him so what the hey. Downhill starts and white jersey idiot keeps look back, as Don/ I sit 20' in back of him. Truth be told--the guy was slower than me on the downhill and we could have passed him anytime--but better to stay right in back and be annoying.
So between getting my dander up and rolling downhill along beautiful Lake Hennesy stretch, it seemed like we pulled into Rest Stop #5--Mile 160, in no time at all--in reality it was 5:05--almost two hours after we had rolled into Rest Stop #4--26 miles ago. I had hoped to arrive here at 4:30 so we could "beat the sunset" but now there was no chance so we lingered a bit. (Found out later that injured doubles master Jack was working this rest stop but had gone off for ice--if he was here he wouldn't have let Don/ I linger.) Only misstep of organizers is that this is where you have to send you lights--as opposed to the final rest stop at mile 187--sop even though no need we had to put them on. Still nice and warm--and still not hungry--so just another slice of bread, 1/2 can of regualr soda (where is the diet soda?) and more pills and duct tape.. And though Don is probably our fastest long distance rider--Kitty (women's triple crown stage race winner two of the last three years) rolled in and proved she is our clubs BEST long distance rider--as she was the only one who dared EAT A HOT DOG WITH ALL THE FIXINS. (Jack said that @170 were eaten by the riders)
Don/ I rolled before we got sick (Don still had memories of a woman puking up a hot dog last year)--while Kitty was munching away on her hot dog and putting on her saftey vest--a though still warm she commented the next segment is like a highway with all the traffic.
Not Kitty's hot dog--actually photo of one served on the Knoxville staff ride the week before photo from Veronica/ Tandemhearts website. Kitty put more crap on her's.

And so it is. Next stretch takes us through rural state roads 128 and 121 around Lake Berryessa. Not many cars and then suddenly a Jeep or SUV with attached boat would come speeding by--with adjacent high rockbeds casting deep shadows over the roadway. A few sections where you could push the pace but many more sections of long (1/4-1/2 mile climbs.) By now I knew I was going to stand on the majority of the climbs--which worked much better than sitting.
Look at watch and it is 6:05 then 6:20 and the final segment in the dark is becoming more and more of a reality. More importantly--san tee shirt it is starting to get cold in the shaded spots (shoudl ahve sent another one with my lights) but don't want to put on vest as the last "serious" climb of the day--Cardiac--looms ahead. No bikes out on the road--and not much traffic. When we start up Cardiac it is time to try to stand once again--and it goes well. Helped that a few cyclists ahead to try to "pick off"--another Grizzly Peak Cyclist ahead (we saw a lot of them today but missed their doubles leader Mark) Past "Mike's Lesbian Point" (see 300k brevet ride story), but no one out today. At first Don said we'd pull into turnout at the top to put on our vests--but he changed his mind in order to beat the dark to the next rest stop--so we began a long and now VERY VERY COOOOOOLD fast run into Rest stop #6 at mile 188 in just our short sleeve jersies as the sun was going down. We pull in right at 7:00--it is still light--but that will end quickly.
Luckily Sacto Doug II & Joanie working this rest stop--as now it is cold and I am ready to eat--at least a cup of "salt noodle soup." Flop into chair to rest my ankle. As per tradition Joanie insists that she make me a PBJ sandwich which I am glad I she made for me. Doug comes up with some salt soup for Don and I. All of a sudden lots of yelling "wrong way"--three riders out of the rest stop had gone back to the road we came off of and were going to go towards Winters/ Davis in the dark.
Last 13 miles is a slightly uphill straight shot back to Vacaville, but along a perfectly BLACK county road with no streetlights. I pull into the road and start going easy--then see Don's lights turn onto the street--so I keep going slowly untill he catches up--but it isn't Don (he's having light trouble) --so I go over to the side of the road and will stop and wait except I can't clip out and almost fall again. Somehow get the bike moving before it tips over, shaken I ride back when Don appears. Don is flying and I get on his wheel and just like the morning he pulls 100% of the time when it is dark. We pass a Fremont Freewheel rider--it is Todd who I ended Auburn with and he jumps on--though he is kind of nervous after I got lost in Auburn, but I told him not to worry as unlike me Don has a sense of direction. Another funny double--at mile 105 (Knoxville climb) didn't think I'd finish the ride--but then in seemingly a blink of an eye we are at the finish, circa 8:20.

Though we only had a small group--end of ride pasta meal was great--Don/I joined by Craig/ John from the rest stop, Todd, and in a little while Kitty. Quackcyclists give out nicely etched pint glasses. Go over and hunt for photos of Don/ I on Ravi's computer (doubles rider form Davis who took photos in excahnge for donation to food bank.) Ravi is a fixed gear track rider and he enthisatically urges me to try out the track--but at this moment I hate my bike. Besides hurting--I'm kind of disappointed--after Mt Tam and Auburn were such smooth rides and this turned out to be more difficult than I anticipated.. Additionally, this signaled the end of the 2007 doubles (and baseball) season.

Monday, September 3, 2007

SF GIANTS 2007-A Great Year

SF GIANTS--a great year

Huh, they finish in last and Barry Bonds last season full of acrimony. But my youngest daughter turns out to be as big a "crank" (term for fan from beginning of last century) as I am, and we had a great time going to a few games. Few times she went to the game and I watched at home and we'd text message back and forth about the ballgame. She was as ecstatic when she met Noah Lowry, as I would be meeting Willie Mays..

Sunday, September 2, 2007



Oh, how I miss the world's most perfect ride--the old Sacramento Wheelmen Double Metric Sierra Century. Needed to do some thinking so went up on a hot Labor Day to do the gradual 24 mile climb from Sutter Creek thru Volcano up Rams Horn Grade and out to Highway 88--and then back. No stop signs for 12 miles along the mostly 1-3% nicely shaded run into Volcano with the usual slight tailwind. 3 whole cars passed. I started late and a few cyclists on the return trip, trying to beat the heat. A young guy came my way and we both picked up the pace to Volcano, but I then remembered that this was supposed to be an easy day so I didn't play on Rams Horn and beyond--though he eventually pull off the road.

Traffic picked up for the next 12 miles among the tall pine trees and cooler air at elevation--6 cars passed. A few noticeable long rollers--lots of great houses with distant neighbors--Cliff Bar picnic in the shade by Highway 88. Fast return trip in half the time--little traffic but ONE usual ass in a pickup did buzz closely by. . Last time I returned via Shake Ridge but I wanted to get a cold drink in Volcano, so down there--if there were 5 less people out it would be a ghost town. Sat on Rosie's bench sipping a soda. Unlike last month was NOT going to climb the 20%'s on Charlestown Grade as a bonus (some bonus.)--so continued on to Sutter Creek. Ice cream in this great Gold Rush town as thermometer hit 100 degrees was perfect..

(September 2007) AUBURN DOUBLE METRIC*** CENTURY 139 Miles (***The NEW Math), 14,000-15,000'+ Climbing (126 mile route had advertised 14,000+)W/ Doug For most of the route**censored** miles per hour (6:20-@6:10)

This is supposedly one of the hardest century rides (used to claim the hardest) and at $80 definitely the most expensive. But after skipping Napa/ Holsteen wanted to do an organized ride, and wanted to do a tuneup for the Knoxville Double. When fellow 2005 Triple Crown Rookie Doug, who had moved to Sacramento, said he was familiar with much of the course, it was beautiful, he'd do it, and I could crash at his place, I was in. Except for a short time trial in the middle of the course this was not a timed event--which was good as I wanted to take it easy after Mt. Tam, and I hadn't seen Doug since Santa Rosa Wine Country and it would be fun bsing with him while riding.

Auburn is in the Gold Country but further North than the Sutter Creek-Volcano area I am familiar with--in fact I had never been to Auburn so I got up there early the day before just to kick around and take advantage of the early check in. Route sheet showed that supposed 126 mile ride was really 139 miles, but I had no clue what the terrain was going to be like--not that many ride reports on the web. Iowa Hill, where they run the time trial, was supposedly an average of 13% but only 1.7 miles. Course seemed like a mini Climb to Kaiser.

In fact the ride would prove to be one of the MOST BEAUTIFUL I had ever done, on nicely paved roads, great scenery, interesting towns, and an endless series of uphill rollers and looong uphills but no real difficult climbs. A combination of the OLD Sierra Century, the Grizzly Century, and Climb to Kaiser. Support was OK but spotty--if the Sacramento Wheelmen ran this event it may be the best century of all time.

Riding with Doug means an early bathroom break at MILE 7. Doug would quip that no one passed us on the course--yeah--they passed us when we stopped 7 miles in.

Recommended that 139 mile riders start around 6:15--which is barely first light, and we rolled slowly at 6:20. First time in awhile that I need a buff over mouth as air is cool and damp, and could barely see the road with sunglasses--though HUGE arrows poured from flower highly visible. Doug usually rides the lower triangle of the inverted A, and one of his friends, Ken, joined us but he'd just be in for the metric--so we just spent the time bsing away and not pushing the pace. Auburn real picturesque and built on an endless series of little hills, so we were meandering about nowhere fast. Once out of town I joked that we are skipping the first rest stop at mile 9--put there for the folks starting later doing the 40 mile route. But no surprise--Doug announces we are stopping. (How the hell did he do the Terrible Two--and was our club winner--when the first rest stop is at mile 55??) So we stopped and when we continued on Doug marveled that not many people passed us---hmmm, maybe they passed us when we were at rest stop mile 9.

This portion to Colfax was mostly gentle uphill rollers--the kind seen on the Old Sierra Century, but no real areas to form a paceline and sustain some speed. Just when I thought it was warming up we'd hit a downhill and the downhill combined with a cold pocket was quite a wake up call. I wasn't keeping ride statistics but Doug later told me we got to Colfax, mile 20, at 8:00. Real picturesque, kind of like Sutter Creek. Was going to grab a banana but--hmmm, there were none. Lots of veggie wraps at this and all other stops but I like to eat simple food while climbing, so I'd just have tortilla shells. Rest stops also had lots of mini Cliff Builder bars, which are the high protein bars great after a ride but not the greatest while riding. Luckily all rest stops had diluted Heed--and they didn't mind if you added powder to the mix.

Anyway, people doing the shorter course now headed West to Iowa Hill, but we continued North to Dutch Flat. The rollers now got a little steeper and longer--it didn't help that following Doug off a downhill we missed a turn so we had a gentle but much much longer climb while we slacked a little thinking we were hopelessly lost. But only an endless 3-5% and beautiful country with good roads with little traffic--though Highway 80 was well hidden but nearby.. We eventually joined the road we were supposed to be on, 3x rolled over monster railroad tracks, and wound up in the tiny tiny (Volcano's sister city??) of Dutch Flat. Little rich pastries here which Doug enjoyed and pushed (like his vegetables) but I had to decline--though I did have a veggie wrap figuring I'd digest it on the downhill back to Colfax--which didn't completely work out.

Long downhill rollers back to Colfax but something real noticeable about rollers. When they are predominantly 70% uphill you think you are climbing all day. But then on the return which is now only 30% uphill, as the downhill is 3x faster than the uphill it still seems predominantly uphill. Only nice relief was on road we had detoured on was part of the return, and very straight, so I was able to stay on Doug's wheel which I can't do is the road is undulated.

Me at Colfax before we did an out and back to Dutch Flat.

Now back to Colfax rest stop which is fairly empty--mile 50--10:30, I'm enjoying the rollers but between them and our bsing so much it is like riding in quicksand. Plus no energy from other riders as we didn't see any on our whole return trip from Dutch Flat. We now head West to Iowa Hill and the 13%, 1.7 climb and optional time trial. The first @5 miles is a curvy--steep downhill on an undivided road in a canyon in the middle of nowhere, nice looking but not the thing I do well as Doug says "this is a fun section" and speeds away from me. Bombing downhill-suddenly in a gully--and a few workers there who start the time trial riders. Told that the TT closed 15 minutes ago, and mostly done by the riders on the shorter course that didn't do the 30 mile out and back to Dutch Flat. But they let me register for it---so I fill out some paperwork while Doug takes off.

Ride is like an inverted A--with out and backs on the upper portions of the legs. But 4 segments of mostly climbing compared to 3 segments of downhills would make for a long day.

Doug vanishes uphill and they hand me my starting time so I'm ready to go--absent mindedly forget to start my watch, and more importantly slam down on the pedals on an uphill dead stop and FORGET I was still in the big ring. F-my ankle hurt immediately and hurt the rest of the day. Still with an adrenaline rush I don't pace myself but want to get back to Doug as soon as possible.

Iowa Hill is steep but never a killer like the Diablo ramp (17-18%) nor are there any places that slack off--which is NOT to my liking. (As I power up rather than spin I rather have a 20% and then 4% relief section than a constant 12%) Road is real rustic--with a long drop off to the side but I am not spending much time looking around. Soon get to Doug, who is a good climber, and fly by him--but then some of the impetus goes out--and so does my back--which now hurts worse than my ankle when I stand. I climb much better when I stand rather than sit so I am praying for a relief section I can stretch out on but no dice. One rider up ahead than would usually provide a challenge catching but he is...walking his bike. I'm starting to think that I'm NUTS for doing a time trial in the middle of a 139 mile course, with @15,000' climbing, and I rather finish the course than kill the time trial section, so I take something off the pace, get pissed at myself for slacking, try to stand but back yells "are you nuts" and sit down quickly. Odomoter seemingly registered @1.5 miles--try to kick it in around the next turn--no dice. Then cruelly I get to the finish line and there is NO ONE THERE to record final time so I slow to wait for Doug, but my back is still hurting and I need to stretch in the drops, so I figure I'll start the downhill which he'll pass me on anyway. Damn--all that effort and time not even recorded. I roll out slowly and about 500' around a turn is a water stop with two enthusiastic "podium girls" cheering wildly. How cool--kind of like the Terrible Two. They figure out my time--22 minutes--which is pretty good (in prior years would put me somewhere in the middle of finishers, when looking at the results saw that VERY FEW people do this for time), and if I would have kicked it into gear toward the finish and ridden directly down to this water stop I probably would have hit 21 minutes. I get refills while waiting for Doug and am talking to the "podium girls" when he finally appears, and unlike Jack who gets us moving with grace and style, Doug is yelling "lets go, lets go, come on lets go"--like he had a bad case of hotfoot while the podium girls giggle away.

Not great time trial of 22:12, 36th of 42 guys. But did it after course was closed, no other riders on it, no impetus, and at the end it looked like no one around so stopped for @1 minute before final time recorded. Of course the big problem was organizers indicate that "any interested rider ?which is signed up for either the 80-mile or 106 mile course may participate."--I was one of the few riders on the the 139 mile course so I had done 33 extra miles to the start of the TT

Doug is happy about the next section which feature long uphill rollers that have kicked up to about 5-7%, where he is happy to have me slack off as we bs, and long twisty downhill sections where he proclaims "this is a fun section" and then shoots off. After a while I am tired of chasing him so I kick it up a notch on the uphill sections so he has to chase back. The weather is now perfect--probably high 70's as we continue on a well paved tree lined road with very little traffic. This reminds me of the El Dorado Forest section of the Old Sierra Century with the grade a little tougher and this beautiful section a little longer. Another rest stop before we come out of this horizontal section of our inverted A--mile 67--Sugar Pine Boat Ramp stop, which is supposedly lunch. We still have lots of climbing so just another tortilla shell , though a worker gets a banana from his car for me. Doug is still anise--"lets go," "lets go," while at the same time starting to express doubt that he will do the whole 139 miles.

Nice looking town of Dutch Flat which was our turnaround on the western leg of the climb.

We quickly get to the Western leg of our ride--where the trees start to recede and the views of the tree filled valley of the surrounding national forest are constant. No more rollers--the road is now a constant uphill but usually a gentle 3-4%. Doug gamefully along for the ride but his pace is falling off--a Fremont Freeheeler passes us at a leisurely pace and Doug can't hang--unfortunately the boy has been business travelling too much. This part reminds me of the out and back portion of the Grizzly after lunch. I ride at the Fremont Freewheeler pace until the center line disappears and the grade kicks up a bit, and I shoot on ahead. Now like the final run in on the Climb to Kaiser but not nearly as steep..

This leg would go on for 19 miles until the mile 91 turn around. With about 10 miles to go started seeing riders coming down--kind of discouraging as I'm 45 minutes out until I started looking at wrist bands--didn't see anyone with the purple bands denoting the 139 mile course--these riders had bypassed the morning 30 mile out and back. (Closer to the turnaround I saw a group of 3-4 riders who I had ridden with in the morning but dropped off so I could ride with Doug.) Not many cyclists now going towards the top--though I did pass a guy with an Orvieto jersey i had never seen.

At the base of Iowa Hill time trial.

One rider coming back yells out " just 1/4 of a mile more" but the climb was long but gentle--I had lots of fun even with constant (but slight) pain from my ankle. The climbing was now almost all done and the word that described the ride was not "hard" but "beautiful."
Summit anticlimatic--(3:00 and mile 91) they needed the cheering podium girls at this turnaround rest stop at Robinson Flat--populated by Yellowjackets and just a few other riders--one Doubles guy commenting that this ride was much harder than the doubles he has been on, with much more climbing than on the doubles and Mt Shasta Summit Century. No pre made veggie wraps here because of the yellowjacket swarm--just more hi protein Cliff Builder Bars--but they made me a deli wrap. I looked around, no great view--and this HAD to be the furthest stop as the two roads that continued on from here weren't paved.
Ride director at this stop--he had driven past me and indicated only about a half dozen riders still coming up. I raved about the course but went over the problems encountered:
-NO BANANAS (they heard about this from a lot of people)
-MORE CARB PRODUCTS (earlier they had muffins) not Cliff Hi-Protein Builder Bars
-Arrow on the few turns marked RIGHT ON the turn, not a warning one 50' before--especially needed on downhills.
Later I'd add:
-Rest stops closing while riders on course--which affected 140 milers.
-Little food at the end of the ride for the 140 milers.The dwindling support for the people who chose to do the 140 miles would slightly po me as two subsequent rest stops and end o ride were actually being taken down--especially as I hadn't eaten much to the turnaround.
Figure I made up for it somewhat with a healthy dose of taking free Endurolights and other give aways for my $80..
Two enthuisatic "podium girls" at the finish of the Iowa Hills time trial.
Ride back is a real treat--mostly a constant downhill with lessening uphill rollers the further you went. I had vowed on the ride up that on the return I'd take some photos of the scenery so stopped a half dozen times. I seemingly played tag with the Fremont Freewheeler rider--I'd pass him, pull off to take a photo, tyhen he'd go past. Quickly pulled into China Wall rest stop that was bursting with activity at mile 76 but now at 105 was being dismantled. Another rider po'd--I commented to him that most riders I saw earlier (way in fronmt of us) had done the shorter course--skipping the morning loop, which jazzed him as he slapped my hand for being another one of the few crazy riders doing the whole tamale. With the rest stop being taken apart I could only score some HEED, Endurolights and taco chips (no veggie wraps.) Continued fast downhill--road still smooth, light traffic, nice views or tree lined as we passed where we had first turned onto this Western leg--so the rest of the ride back, via Foresthill, would be new. And still warm and dry so no vest needed on the downhill.

East and west views from the Tahoe National Forest seen on eastern leg of the climb.

About this time I started thinking that this was the greatest course ever--sure the rollers kept the speed down but part of it was my riding at a slacking pace early on. Otherwise--great roads--little traffic--not many turns--nice scenery. And we'd go over the Foresthill Birdge--the tallest span in America--another Kodak moment.
Few mistakes. Getting close to Foresthill we picked up traffic for the remained of the ride which would keep us on a mjor route--albeit a clean but strange 4-8' shoulder. Strange as it had two different pavements on it--with one being 1"-2" lower than the other --so you had to pick the shoulder level you were going to ride on and stay on it until traffic picked up or the right shoulder ended--and then be carefull when "jumping" to the other shoulder.

Foresthill Road a few miles from the 6,000' turnaround at Robinson Flat. Road as smooth as a babies butt, little to no traffic, this would be a feature until getting to Foresthill 26 miles away on the return trip.
When we hit the dying Foresthill Rest Stop (KEEP THEM OPEN ANOTHER 45 MINUTES !!!!) the workers recommended keeping on the main road though the course went on a back road for 6 miles. Didn't see anyone take the official route and a half dozen riders headed back to Foresthill Road, which was a mistake. I understand missed out on a short but steep climb but would have been nice to be out of traffic.
Another mistake was that the Foresthill Bridge not in Foresthill but next to Auburn--and NO access to the walkway.
High Foresthill Bridge next to Auburn--built sky high as Auburn Dam was supposed to go underneath. But copuldn't get on walkway to look down, and though this shot impressive no ironwork/ cables viewed on roadway so bridge seems really plain (how about the General Pulaski sjkyway here???) Photo clipped from website about the proposed Auburn Dam

On bridge had first minor run in with pick-em-up truck all day. One lane in each direction on bridge, though very wide (15-20') but sewer grates--tire traps on furthest 2-3', but no traffic has any problem passing us. One cowboy comes by hitting his horn which riles me up.

Now in Auburn and riding with Fremont Freewheeler who also using this a tune up for the Knoxville Double. I warn him that I am my CLUB CHAMP---in getting lost--and I proptly take a wrong turn that we have to retrace. Finally back in the parkling lot @6:20--90% of the cars from the morning gone. Supposedly there was chicken but none left--just a few scoops of rice and veggies. One rider keeps insisting that they are cooking more chicken for us--never see anything but more overhangs/ chairs/ tables being carted off. Funny thing is that Doug and I rode easy until we split up at @mile 75, except for STOPPING AT MILE 7 (alright it was mile 9) we didn't take more than 10-12 minutes anywhere else. I'd love to do this ride next year but start 30-45 early (they sag lights from the 1st and 2nd stop), and ride harder so that can be more a part of the organized ride--with people around and rest stops open. Otherwise why $$$ for this ride--may as well come up here and do Doug's metric ride. In any event--BEAUTIFUL AREA, will try to get some Diablo Cyclists up here

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Ten Reasons for Not Doing the Napa Century-2007

A couple of weeks later Holstein Hundred and Tour of Napa Valley suddenly upon us, I signed up for neither. Not buzz from the Club as in the past, especially for Tour of Napa Valley, which used to be PREEMINENT--and Holstein is ridden over much of the same Mt Tam course. In truth I was "death" for 1 1/2 weeks from Mt Tam ride so didn't sign up for Napa--but it also has lost much of it's glamor.

Top 10 Reasons for NOT doing Tour of Napa Valley

1. $65. Weren't Century rides $15-20 just as recent as in the late 1990's. Many DOUBLES (200 miles) are $65--and a self supported Century is $7.50.
2. $5 more for a patch that used to be given away free.
3. Tour of Napa Valley has perfected how to get 3,000 riders on most routes to the JAMMED lunch spot at the same time. I can wait on line and see crowds at Wal Mart for free.
4. Though food is very good--more loooong lines for food at end of ride area.
5. Wouldn't miss the afternoon adventure of pacelining down the Silverado Trail--which is now heavy in winery visitor (drinking) traffic. Though nice wide shoulder, it is frequently BLOCKED by 3 people riding mountain bikes/ cruisers who HAVE TO b.s while riding 3 abreast at 11 mph.
6. Parking is terrible--usually wind up on the side of a hill on weed infested field 1/4 mile from the start. At least the paved lots where residents park are now marked off--nothing like getting yelled at by residents a few years back.
7. Though ride visuals are nice, Silvarado Trail much nicer in early morning on Terrible Two/ Knoxville, and Pope Valley much nicer earlier on Davis Double. (and continuation to Middletown on great road past crowded golf course lunch stop is better still.)
8. Napa's Road improvement program consists of putting white chevrons around all the cracks and ruts in the road.
9. The metric course--which stays among the vineyards, actually nicer than the 100 mile course which goes though suburbia.
10. Though Yountville may need money--don't feel like making a donation when local police line up ready to give "chickenass" tickets (thanks Adam Corolla) tickets to cyclists--especially at 7:00 when there is no other traffic .

Good luck to Mike/ Don riding P-B-P Here they are going over route at going away party-"How Does this Course Go Again?"

We're lucky to have Mt Diablo, all 3,849' tall, laying in the middle of the County. Instead of fighting traffic almost all summer I've stopped off gone up on Tuesday--often joined by Ward--at a recovery pace to the top, and then on Wednesday went "balls out" with the Diablo Cyclists to the Ranger Station (2,159'), as we all chase cyclocross champ Mark and mountain bike camp Jason, and then often continuing on to the top. While most of Diablo isn't steep, to the Ranger Station appx 5% and the rest of the way appx 6%, sometimes I do the ending ramp, @1000' at 18%--twice. Midweek the 11 miles of roads to the top is very quiet with little traffic and loads of bikes--especially before the Death Ride and a midyear Time Trial race--which has everyone out. On the weekend there is a line of cars going to the top for the view--so sometimes I "add on" 20 miles to the Ranger Station, pre Diablo Cyclist ride before cars are allowed in. Here are two photos I took at the top of Diablo within minutes of each other mid August. Looking Northeast it is sunny and warm (Sacramento is appx 50 miles away in this direction) Looking to the West there is a thick layer of fog hovering over San Francisco, which you can barely see. Kind of explains the 30 degree temperature differential.
(September 2007) Mt. Diablo -- Sierra Road Self Supported Double Metric 124 miles, 7,852' climbing, 15.5 averagesolo Mt Diablo to Ranger Station Diablo Cyclist Club ride to Calavaras Ward, Rusty, Beth and I do Sierra Road Bonus Loop (Tom also did it but separated from us)
Kind of a depressing week--Don and Mike dropped out of B-P-B, an SUV started an accident that had another car bouncing off mine on the freeway, and apart from Knoxville Double kind of miffed that nothing else has caught my eye or that of many club members (Doug and I will do Auburn Double Metric) . We had a Club ride scheduled for 80 miles out to the gentle Calavaras climb,, Ward suggested we could add the not so gentle Sierra loop, and then I figured I could add some miles before the Club ride to get a DOUBLE metric century, which meant heading up Mt Diablo before they open the gates for weekend cars..
Day started out "great" on Diablo when a cyclist told me he was bitten by a rabid coyote the prior Tuesday @ 30 minutes after I passed the spot of incident. Then some numnut coming up a steep blind turn (the 1000' level) decided to weave up across the whole road while I was coming down--he was flush across my lane, which got me screaming. Nice turnout for club ride though lacks some cohesiveness with Don in Europe and Jack infirmed--so we split up into a few groups on the fast run into Sunol. Then over the beautiful gentle switchback climb on Calavaras--though ruined by Santa Clara saving $$$ and (as they did on Mt Hamilton a few years back) chip sealing the road--so gravel flying everywhere and turns taken gingerly. At one point there was a pile of gravel on the side of the road that the country then painted the lane stripe over. Good deal.
At end of Calavaras we waited around to regroup while Tom started on ahead--thinking we were going to leave in a few minutes. But took awhile to regroup, and then found out that many people thinking about the steep Sierra Road climb earlier now weren't that enthused. On Beth, who had never done Sierra Road, wanted to join Ward/ I while Rusty yelled at her that she was crazy for wanting to do it. We started off and were joined by...."Troublemaker" Rusty, who also had never done Sierra Road."
Not a hot day but Sierra Road steep, especially at the beginning, and wide open, but everyone happy that we did the 35 minutes of hell. Then a fast back, paceline to Sunol where we sat around the porch of the general store and watched life go by before heading back to Walnut Creek. Total cost for this century ride--about $12.
Ride menu--for self supported Century rides I like to keep track of what I ate, and how the food planning went. Albeit to many calories / carbs on Friday (about 400 calories-100 carbs to many) the food intake came off well--and is a good model for an 8 hour ride.
-Thursday (carb deficeny before loading) 1995 calories--280g (57% carb calories)
-Friday (carbo loading) 3265 calories--605g carbs (74% carb calories)
-Sat-Breakfast 2 hours before ride--635 calories-90g carbsWhole Wheat Waffles(3) -Jelly-Yogert-Banana-Liquid on Ride-@7 total bottles & 1 Diet Iced Tea--1180 calories-275 carbs 7 scoops HEED-700 calories-175 carbs3 scoops Perpetuem mixed w/ one shot (Banana) Hammergel-480 calories-100g carbs (drunk cold on run into Sunol)
-Food On Ride--1325 calories-290 carbs-Cliff Bar, 250 calories-40 carbs (@ Diablo Ranger Station)-Bagel, 360 calories-75 carbs (@ Sunol)-Cliff Bar, 250 calories-40 carbs (@ end Calavaras)-Sports Beans & Banana, 215-55 carbs (before Sierra Climb)-Cliff Bar, 250 calories-40 carbs (@ back at Sunol)Total food/ drink on ride 2505 calories---565 carbsTook two Tums and Two Endurolights at every stop 90g carbs for breakfast a little "light," could have gone to 150g. Conversley, on 8 hour ride with good but far from great intensity, 50g carbs an hour is target, so 565g carbs consumed over 400g target, so both breakfast and ride food/ drink combined got me into target ballpark..